About a year ago, I made a Webmaster tool wish list for 2008. Today, we’ll go over the results from my list and chart out a new list of things I’d like to see in 2009.
2008 Wish: More Canonical Control to Reduce Duplication
This request revolved around the ability to tell engines that www.example.com/products/ and www.example.com/products/index.aspx are the same. Engines are getting better at understanding it, but not always. Also, sometimes these pages are not the same (think ad agency splash page or any site with an “enter this site” link on the home page).
While I didn’t get my wish, I documented ways that this hurt some sites and got the owners to take some positive action.
2008 Wish: Redirecting Control for New Content
I asked for a two-paned control panel to help engines understand that the URL from pane A is supposed to redirect to the URL in pane B. The system would also allow you to indicate either 302 or 301, depending on your needs.
Again, no dice. But as with the preceding item, I’ve had another year to educate clients on this stuff, and they’re getting better at understanding it.
2008 Wish: Ability to Add and Subtract URLs from XML Feeds
Similar to my hypothetical “redirect control panel,” my hypothetical URL addition/subtraction tool would enable you to add or take URLs from the virtual XML feed that engines had crawled. And once again, I walked away empty-handed, although third-party support for XML site maps improved significantly last year.
It Has To Get Better
A year ago, a common thread ran through most of my requests. My hopes were that engines would, through their toolsets, continue to take the initiative to circumvent the chasm between online marketing departments and the IT department in the same organization, saying in essence, “Even if your IT department can’t fix a certain issue, we’ll do our best to view your site as if the issue didn’t exist.”
Looking over the data, that wasn’t the smartest path. This year, I’m taking a different tack, and I’m taking my wishes outside the engines’ sphere.
2009 Wish: More Control Over Social Media Indexing
I think LinkedIn will pull further ahead of the pack next year and become a corporate identity platform second only to your own corporate site.
Facebook, however, isn’t far behind. Last month, Facebook grew more in the preceding three months than it did in its first three years, and its demographic is shifting rapidly.
While I think LinkedIn has a lead in understanding the technical benefits of gentle release of content into engines, both of these sites will be working hard throughout 2009 to find the balance between securing that low-hanging search traffic and avoiding annoying or angering its users.
My wish for LinkedIn: that they continue fleshing out their corporate profile pages, perhaps eventually requiring some intra-company verification before users can edit the corporate profile. In addition, further integration of the corporate profile and jobs posting relationships would make the site a challenger to even the biggest job boards.
For Facebook, I wish it will take steps necessary to accommodate the legions of companies that will soon want and demand a presence there. I think the “wassup?” philosophy of its typical user-base won’t be particularly shocked at a gradual influx of corporatism. It needs to create more tools for companies so that they’re not embarrassed to say they have a Facebook page.
Of course, I haven’t forgotten that this is, for me, all about search. These sites will reap huge organic benefits at both ends of the keyword curve, depending on the level to which they let the crawlers in. And charging companies for tiered services (and perhaps visibility) could prove to be a nice source of cash.
I have a few more wishes, but they’ll wait until next time. Until then, cross your fingers that my holiday conversion rate will exceed last year’s.
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